WCO Report for Erie County 06/01/2005: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: May 31, 2005

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on May 31, 2005 at 23:05:16:

WEST ERIE COUNTY, DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO aBrook Tolbert

The holiday weekend, although pleasant, was a bit on the cold side. Nonetheless, many anglers were determined to take advantage of good wind and wave conditions on Lake Erie. The question all weekend was "where are the perch?" Perch catches were sporadic with anglers still looking for the large schools. A number of anglers are claiming to be marking sizable schools at times although they just aren't hitting hard yet. Bass anglers are still hitting them well both in the bay and out in the lake. Rising temperature forecasts over the next few week or so should begin to bring lake temperatures up and improve both the perch and walleye fishing.
Bass fishing has been good in the tribs especially in the deeper slow moving pools.
Current Lake Erie water temperature as of this writing is an average 57 degrees.

Try Edinboro Lake for a Change of Pace:
Anglers were doing well at Edinboro Lake south of Erie over the Holiday weekend. Several nice buckets of good size crappie were caught in relatively short time spans. Pan fishing from shore is popular and can be a special treat for the kids and a relaxing day for Mom and Dad. Walleye fishing has been slow with few good reports yet. Edinboro is a great location for that lazy afternoon of shoreline fishing and a picnic.

Fish for Free Days Again:
If you missed fish for free days this past Saturday, you can try again this Sunday, June 5th, the second of the two fish for free days this year. A fishing license is not required that day although all fishing regulations are in effect. Early weather predictions for this Saturday are calling for sun and temperatures in the mid 70's. Why not take introduce a friend or family to the great fishing opportunities that Pennsylvania has to offer.

Law Enforcement:
A number of violations were found this past Holiday weekend in spite of a lower than usual number of boats on the water. Safety violations were common with a number of boaters operating with less than the required number of PFDs being on board. A PFD is required on all watercraft for every person on board. Other citations and warnings issued included expired visual distress signals (flares), lack of or unserviceable fire extinguishers when required, operating at greater than minimum swell height in posted areas (no wake areas), operating a PWC without a boaters safety certificate, no registration for the watercraft, and no type IV throwable (ring or cushion) on board for boats over 16'. In fact a few boaters had no idea what was meant by a throwable cushion and one individual went so far as to lift one of the boat seat cushions off the base, plywood backing and all, and asked "Is this it?"

Boaters Safety Tip of the Week:
When using someone else's boat, it is your responsibility as the operator to assure that all required PFD's and safety equipment are onboard and in good serviceable condition.

Alcohol and water don’t mix – especially if there is a boat involved. And thanks to a grant from Erie Insurance Company, Waterways Conservation Officers (WCOs) with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) now have additional tools for enforcing the state’s boating under the influence laws.

Erie Insurance has presented the Commission with a $27,200 grant to purchase 80 video cameras for WCOs to use on patrol. The cameras have applications in a variety of investigations conducted by WCOs, ranging from documenting pollution cases to filming boat accident scenes. Perhaps their most important function is allowing officers to tape erratic or dangerous boat operation on the water to be presented as evidence when building a BUI case.

“Determining probable cause for making a BUI stop can be more challenging on the water than for police officers on traffic patrol. There are no lane markers on a lake to use in ascertaining if a vehicle is swerving because of operator impairment. There are other, sometimes subtle signs, an officer can observe that suggest an operator is under the influence. Being able to record those actions for use in a potential prosecution strengthens our effectiveness,” said Tom Kamerzel, Director of the PFBC’s Bureau of Law Enforcement.

“Most people are familiar with the restrictions related to driving a car while intoxicated. Similar restrictions apply in Pennsylvania to boating under the influence. Erie Insurance Group is proud to help educate boaters and provide Conservation Officers with additional tools to apprehend those that break the law and endanger the safety of others. Erie Insurance Group has been educating policyholders through In Sync magazine for 15 years on topics such as this, and now through this grant, we are able to bring the pages of In Sync to life across Pennsylvania. Intoxicated boaters are not only a hazard to themselves, but a hazard to others on the water,” said Doug Fitzgerald, Manager of Erie Insurance Group’s Harrisburg Branch.

Alcohol was a contributing factor in four recreational boating fatalities in Pennsylvania over the last two years. The penalties for operation of a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance could lead to a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $7,500, or imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both, plus the loss of boating privileges for a period of 12 months. Homicide by watercraft while under the influence carries a fine of not less than $2,500 but not exceeding $15,000, or imprisonment of no less than three and no more than seven years - or both. In addition to the offenses described above, operating a watercraft under the influence may also violate other laws. These may include prohibitions against reckless or negligent operation of boats, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and under-age drinking. The grant was announced as part of the observation of National Safe Boating Week, May 21-27.

Local Weather:

Wednesday night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 50s. Southeast winds 5 to 10 mph.
Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 70s. Southeast winds around 10 mph.
Thursday night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 50s. East winds around 10 mph.
Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 70s.
Friday night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 50s.
Partly cloudy. Highs around 80.
Saturday night
Partly cloudy. Lows around 60.
Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs around 80.
Sunday night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 60s.
Monday and Monday night
Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs around 80. Lows around 60.
Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 70s.

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